Four-letter words often carry the most impact.
Or, when it comes to David Ortiz, Tukkaa Rask, the late John Tortorella or Tony Amonte - the word "f--k."
Those four-letter words, and many more, will be used to define and describe the upcoming Eastern Conference Finals series between the Bruins and Penguins.
Heading into the series, the "
Sesame Causeway Street" word of the day is "hate." There's no need to bring the hate, it's already here.
We hate Matt Cooke.
Really, really, really hate Matt Cooke.
We hate the Penguins.
We hate their logo.
We hate the fact they stole the Bruins' team colors.
We hate the way Mario Lemieux has run his franchise.
We hate Scotty Bowman, who coached them to a Stanley Cup partly at the expense of the Bruins in 1992, because he used to coach the Canadiens when they killed the Bruins.
We hate that some bars in Pittsburgh won't be serving Sam Adams once the playoffs start.
We hate Penguins fans because they're also Steelers fans.
Our great-grandparents hated the great-grandparents of those same fans all the way back in 1903 because they were Pirates' fans.
For more than a century: Hate. Hate. Hate.
Mainly, we hate the Penguins because they're probably the best team in the NHL. After all, no one hates the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hate isn't all always bad. (See the Jets.) Just like love isn't all always good. (See carbohydrates.)
Sometimes, it's healthy to hate.
But there's a big difference between real hate and sports hate.
Children may not know the difference between sports hate and real hate, but mature adults do. Even those in Pittsburgh, New York and Philadelphia.
The jury's still out on Vancouver and certain campuses in the SEC.
Real hate was a natural and justified reaction after 9/11, or the Marathon bombings. As it was after Pearl Harbor, and Germany's subsequent declaration of war against the U.S. a day later.
Hate masks pain. Hate provides motivation. Hate makes you fearless.
Hate can be more powerful than Oxycontin.
Time is real enemy of hate. It's nearly impossible to hate forever.
There are exceptions, though. Hitler, Bin Laden, Speedbump and Asshat, Bane, General Zod, the IRS, Cooke.
OK, we won't go that far.
It would be insulting to General Zod.
(Countdown to "Boston blogger compares Cooke to
Bin Laden Hitler IRS" headline in three, two, one...)
Jack Edwards immediately knew he crossed the red line last month when he equated Cooke's nomination for the Masterton Trophy with a possible parole of Sirhan Sirhan. Once the Internet got done Googling "Sirhan Sirhan," it was outraged. Edwards quickly apologized via Twitter to Cooke, the NHL and anyone else who was offended. Hatred got the best of him, for a split second, and he did something regrettable. I feel the same way about all those times I gave Reggie Jackson the finger as a teenager at Fenway Park.
Edwards' historic analogy was, gasp, a mistake. But Neckbeards and Trolls allow no such room for error. Such is the life when you're driven by hatred of anyone who is successful. Or live to find fault in those who are better than you at what you wish you could do.
That brings us to this series.
What Cooke did to Marc Savard straddles the line between real hate and sports hate. He is A-Rod with an intent to injure. At least A-Rod's best shot ended up in Jason Varitek's mask. And when he swung his purse at Bronson Arroyo, he ended up being called out for interference.
Cooke's 2010 hit on Savard was vicious, cheap and borderline criminal, not matter what the NHL's Kangaroo Court said. Cooke is supposedly reformed (hence Edwards' sarcasm). The injury he inflicted on Savard went beyond hockey. It was life-shattering. Has Cooke done anything/enough to warrant forgiveness? That's between him and Savard. What angers and continues to fuel the sports/real hate directed at him from Boston and elsewhere is a result from the insincerity of his "reformation."
The rest of the hate surrounding Bruins-Penguins is of the good, old-fashioned, healthy sports hate variety. It's not quite Bruins-Canadiens, but it's getting there. It's been a while since these teams met in the postseason. How long? About 24 hours before Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins swept the Bruins out of 1992 Wales Conference finals, Johnny Carson hosted "The Tonight Show" for the final time.
Heeeeeeeere's Johnny (Boychuk, this time).
Sports hate can be wonderful, as long as it doesn't cross the line into real hate. It boosts TV and sports-talk radio ratings, ticket sales, web-site hits and newspaper circulation. (Kids, you can Google "newspaper circulation.") It unites people who can't agree on anything else. It's passed down through generations, just like the family name, holiday traditions and diabetes.
This series should be sickly sweet.
The Penguins are favored to win it (my pick is Bruins in six) and were nearly perfect against Ottawa. (Just as the Bruins were nearly perfect against the Rangers.) Pittsburgh will win at least one game in this series by four or more goals and leaves Boston less than no room for error.
Much the same was said two years ago before the Stanley Cup Finals about the Canucks, whom the Bruins and their fans grew to hate during that series.
They won't have any such problems starting Saturday night.
You gotta love it.
Speaking of old-time sports hate, join us tonight starting at 6:30 p.m. for our in-game Red Sox and Yankees chat. In case you missed it, this series will be for first place in the A.L. East. Who'da thunk it?
Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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